A Quick Note on Santorum & Porn

Rick Santorum’s pledge to enforce U.S. obscenity law in a new fight against pornography – widely reported and debated on conservative sites — ought to raise questions. First; why? Second, and more importantly; what laws? As a capstone on America’s sordid history of pornography laws, Reno v. American Civil Liberties Union makes clear that banning adults from viewing pornography is just not a thing. 521 U.S. 844 (1997). The road to that conclusion was long, and full of fits and half-starts, as the Court tried to build a view of the First Amendment that would let them ban “obscene” images without infringing on protected speech. They failed. In a free society, you just can’t draw the line, and Rick Santorum should know better. Maybe he missed an entire half-century of First Amendment jurisprudence, or maybe he just doesn’t care. Either way, he’s in the curious position of being so extreme that he’s looped around the spectrum, and finds himself with no less of an ally than Catherine MacKinnon, who’s walked this path to ruin ahead of him. I’m sure they’ll get along just fine.

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